Autoliv, a leader in automotive safety systems, and POC, a specialist in cycling protection, are developing bicycle and e-bike helmets equipped with airbag technology.
Improved head protection is arguably crucial in supporting the growing popularity of cycling, which is being advanced by environmental concerns and the widespread availability of e-bikes. This priority is of particular concern for cyclists travelling at higher speeds on e-bikes.
Head injuries account for half of fatal cyclist injuries. Although helmets are highly beneficial to head safety, Autoliv and POC argue that helmet absorption efficiency could be improved.
The two companies have therefore partnered to explore the potential of using airbag technology in helmets, allowing the airbag to act as an initial energy absorber prior to the underlying helmet.
“Autoliv is committed to the vision of Saving More Lives and to providing world class life-saving solutions for mobility and society. The safety of vulnerable road users, such as bicyclists and e-bike riders, is high on our agenda. Therefore, it was natural to collaborate on this initiative with POC, a leader in bicyclist safety, to explore how to improve helmet protection in current standard testing and more challenging scenarios, such as higher impact speeds.”
As part of this partnership, Autoliv conducted a pre-study that demonstrated the benefits of using helmets with integrated airbags to improve head protection.
Throughout impact tests, the absorbing technologies reduced the cyclist’s peak linear head acceleration and significantly reduced head injury risk. The risk for a bicyclist to sustain moderate to fatal head injuries was reduced from from 80 percent to 30 percent when using the air bag technology in a 20 kilometres per hour collision.
The pre-study also showed that these improvements could be implemented without critically compromising the design, weight or comfort of the helmet.
“Our safety mission drives everything we do, and we always challenge conventional thinking in order to improve protection. Helmets are tested and certified in a laboratory setting and can never fully address all the real-world variables of bike crashes. Together with Autoliv, who are world-renowned and have some of the most advanced testing and research facilities in the field, we have embarked on a development journey with airbag technology, asking ourselves what could be done to excel in current test scenarios and push the envelope towards even more shock absorbing capacity.”
The successful outcome of the pre-study will now lead to more testing and refinement in order to further develop the concept and bring a product to the market.
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